The company is going downhill, we may be left without work,“ employees are whispering to one another. Thus, a rumour is being born which spreads easily and fast among the workforce without being well founded. During the financial crisis, it only takes a single month with fewer orders, a couple of delayed payments, and mentally disturbing rumour starts spreading among the workers.

A rumour - due to which the workers discuss adversity (with a cigarette, for instance, see the article How much does smoking cost the employer) decreasing the company´s productivity, - spreads fast. Logically, it is in most cases followed by looking for economic security in the form of another job. That easy is the road to a descending performance of the company. It is particularly dangerous at the time of crisis. With the economic climate worsening, the firm´s internal instability can prove fatal. 

An ill-defined process of internal communication is to blame for such unfounded misunderstandings. Either it is not clearly set, or not adhered to. If workers do not get the information they need in a given situation, they are going to find it themselves. Mostly they find their own way to get it and draw their own conclusion or chose a rumour that is closer to their hearts. It can happen even in an ISO 9001:2000 - certified company, where the internal communication is mandatory. However, many companies only meet the ISO requirement formally, for example, by means of an occassional memo, an internal direction or the minutes of a meeting. This is not enough to secure a quality transfer of information, or, even to get the communicated message across. Quality demands a well-set and observed process that is supposed to include the following: 

  • Instruments of communication (intranet, the firm´s circular, the director´s e-mail, a personal letter, a wall poster, ….)
  • Defined responsibility for regular communication and the quality of messages
  • Situations to be communicated with pre-defined time limits for their respective communication
  • Modes of information control for the internal communication 
  • Definitions of individual activities of the internal communication process
  • Interconnection of the internal communication with the external one
  • etc.

The process alone constitutes a mere base for a transfer of information at the right time and to the place needed. Communication is, above all, a human affair heavily dependent on how and to whom information is communicated. Improvement in the internal communication will not come before an analysis of processes and, mainly, a thorough analysis of the communication modes, the impacts of communication, etc. have been carried out.  

A good internal communication helps to:

  • create a good climate within the company
  • better relationships in the workplace
  • enhance the employees´s trust in the management
  • strengthen the bond between employees and the company, and their loyalty in general
  • run the company more effectively
  • prevent the so-called grapevine

We find from our experience the period of crisis is exactly the time when managers and  leaders are afraid to communicate adverse facts. We have also known that the negative effects that follow from the crisis can be eliminated by choosing the right mode of communication which is done regularly. Everything, nonetheless, has to be based on the truth.

Discussion entries by:  Jiří Střelec, a consultant, and Marketa Fingerová, PR1 communication specialist

Discussion questions:

  1. What do you think about the internal communication?
  2. Is your process of internal communication drawn up sufficiently? Is it matching the standard of, say, the production processes?
  3. What would you improve in your firm?
  4. What would you recommend to others? According to you, what is working great?

Join in the discussion by filling in the boxes below.  

The best entry to be awarded

On July 25, 2009, an OwnWay consultant and a PR1 communication specialist are going to pick out the best two written contributions to the discussion. The winner chosen by the consultant will get: 

  • An invitation to a golf tournament organized by OwnWay on July 30, 2009 - the tournament is also intended for non-players. The winner will be provided with the green free, a golf trainer services and refreshment including lunch. 
  • The winner chosen by the communication specialist will get:
  • a place in the PUBLIC RELATIONS SCHOOL course organized by PR1 agency in October

The awarded discussion entries were written by Pavel Trvaj and Pavela Musil.